Wednesday, June 09, 2010

County Council At-Large Candidates on Their Accomplishments

Today’s question taken from MCEA’s questionnaires for the At-Large County Council candidates is: What would you describe as your most significant accomplishment as a member of the County Council (incumbents) or as an elected official in another office, member of an advocacy or issue group, or other public service role (challengers)?

Marc Elrich

Changing the growth policy to place more realistic tests on transportation capacity, to reduce overcrowding in schools and to get impact fees that, when the economy recovers, will generate significant revenues for infrastructure was one of the key things I wanted to accomplish when I sought this office. So I feel good about that. I thought in the White Flint Master Plan, that getting the BRT as central piece of it and getting the non-auto mode share (the number of people not driving to work) up to 50% was very significant both in terms of creating a real smart growth project and reducing auto use, but also because it allowed us to approve more density without causing the road network to grind to a stop. I worked really hard with the citizens on both sides of whether to support the Master Plan, and with the developers to come up with a package that I think will result in a really landmark project and be an example of Smart Growth that can be replicated. I’m proud of my domestic worker legislation, of my bill that protected the C&O canal from construction at its boundaries.

Nancy Floreen

As Chair of the Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee for the past eight years, I have been the county’s foremost and most ardent advocate for infrastructure construction during that time - probably for the last twenty years. Most recently, I brought the Council together on unanimous votes to approve two controversial master plans and a contested zoning language change. I have recently introduced a bill to create the Montgomery Business Development Corporation to bring in new players to assist in job growth. Historically, I have brought tremendous experience to bear on our land use decisions. About 5 years ago I introduced the “homeowner credit” portion of the property tax calculation, which allows us to reap higher tax revenue from commercial property, non-owner occupied residential property, and the personal property tax. And several years ago I introduced the first “carbon” tax on the utility bill, applied proportionately to the usage of higher carbon emitting sources, which now nets us about 11 million.

George Leventhal

My most significant accomplishment on the Council has been the creation and growth of the Montgomery Cares program, which this year will provide access to health care for more than 23,000 poor, uninsured county residents.

Jane de Winter

I am proud that a number of changes to the budget advocacy process within MCCPTA led to successful advocacy efforts and are being continued today by that organization. One of the first changes was to get the organization to focus on a smaller number of issues. For several years, Marshall Spatz had asked MCCPTA what in the MCCPTA Operating Budget Compact was most important and we did not have an answer because we had not established priorities. For the past five years MCCPTA has passed an Operating Budget Priorities Resolution which sets out the most important issues of the year. Through more focused advocacy, MCCPTA was able to secure an increase in the number of hours that health technicians staff schools and also prevent cuts to those positions for FY11. I believe it was my leadership in budget advocacy that led the Superintendent to invite me and MCCPTA to participate in the MCPS budget development process for FY09. I proposed that MCPS reevaluate the FACT score formula, used to rank buildings for modernization, in CIP testimony in November, 2006. MCPS issued the FACT Review Committee report in April, 2010, as a result of efforts begun that fall and continued by my successors at MCCPTA. A common thread in these accomplishments is the effort to set priorities and strategically plan for the future.

Robert Dyer

My most significant accomplishment has been bringing violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act to light and having them successfully resolved.

As a member of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, I have helped our party reduce monthly expenses by pointing out items in the budget we could do without (or for less). I’ve also increased transparency and oversight in our monthly budget report.

Fred Evans

I am very proud of my accomplishments as a secondary school principal, especially my 4-1/2 years (1989-1993) as principal of Parkland Middle School. I was appointed as principal of Parkland Junior High four months after the tragic death of the former principal, Dr. Mark Mann. I began my tenure at Parkland as the school and community were in the midst of the conversion process from a junior high to a middle school. The staff, students and parents not only had to adjust to a new leader after their tragic loss, but also had to prepare for a new operational model. The short version of this accomplishment is that, with a great deal of help and support from many individuals, we were able to complete the conversion process and begin the “new” school on a very positive note. The most important lesson that I learned from this experience, among many, is that individuals will “step up” in a crisis situation to move forward. This experience gave me new confidence in my abilities as a leader and helped me when I moved to my next assignment.

Hans Riemer

I helped a generation of young people achieve political power in this country.

My work in youth political engagement began when I founded a nonprofit organization at the age of 23 that provided a voice for young people on economic issues and particularly Social Security. I ran that group for nearly five years, eventually leading a national coalition campaign to protect Social Security from the Bush privatization plan.

Over time I moved into youth voter engagement, first as Washington Director for Rock the Vote during the 2004 election cycle, where we registered more than a million young voters and pioneered some of the new web-based engagement techniques. In March 2007, not long after my own unsuccessful race for Council District 5, I went to Chicago to work for Barack Obama, as National Youth Vote Director. The Obama campaign gave me wide latitude to develop an early-state and national program that could get young people out to vote. Our organizing paid off, as President Obama's margin of victory in Iowa was nearly equal to his youth vote. Young voters continued to power his victories through the primaries. I am gratified to see that one of the first health care reform initiatives to be implemented is a provision allowing young people to remain on their family plans until age 26, which I successfully lobbied the campaign policy team to include in our platform. With so many high school and college students graduating into unemployment, that rule will be particularly important in the coming few years.

From my experience on the Obama campaign, I learned that you can only change policy if you change the politics, and that requires getting new and more people involved in the process. I intend to bring this insight and spirit to my work on the Montgomery County Council---and I believe that I will only be successful in moving the County forward if I am able to organize new voices into the political process. Not only younger families but new immigrants, new residents, small business owners---the people who represent the future of our County.

Brandon Rippeon

This is my first time entering a public service role.

Becky Wagner

For the past 11 years I have lead Interfaith Works, a nonprofit business. During that time the organization has grown from an $800K budget to $4.5 million. I make payroll and fund benefits every two weeks for 110 employees. The result of this work is that 35,000 men, women and children are receiving services that will lead them to self-sufficiency.

In the recent past I have had key opportunities by serving the community as:

• Co-chair, Montgomery County Safety Net Coalition (65+ non-profits successfully organized to prevent serious budget cuts to services for our county’s most vulnerable)
• Co-chair, Vote No on A,B,C. (coalition of labor, business, non-profits, elected and community leaders that defeated the “Ficker Amendments” proposing tax caps, term limits and single Council districts)
• Co-chair, No on Slots campaign in Montgomery County (broad coalition of business, faith-based, non-profits and community leaders opposed to slot machine gambling)